Spiel 2014 Preview: Madame Ching

Posted by James (admin) on August 12th, 2014

Madame Ching game set-upMadame Ching looks like a really interesting eurogame.  Players send their boats on expeditions across the sea by playing cards (each showing a number, a colour and a symbol) – so far that sounds very normal, but the central game mechanic is unusual.

At the start of each round, players simultaneously reveal one card from their hand of cards.  In order, based on their card number (highest to lowest), players each take a turn playing the card they revealed.

If a player’s card has a higher value than their previous card, the player’s ship advances across the sea grid of numbered spaces moving it one space to the right.  If the card has added a new colour to their expedition’s cards, the ship also moves down one space too.

Whilst not essential to understanding the game, there’s one bit I want to highlight because I think it’s rather clever (especially as I admire the maths of it).  Each space on the grid shows a number.  If a player wants to check if their ship is on the correct space, they look at the cards in their expedition and multiply the number of cards by the number of different coloured cards.  The total number matches the space’s number.  Clever.

If a player’s card has a lower value than the player’s previously played card, the player’s expedition ends, their boat is removed from the board (ready to begin a new expedition next turn), and the player can potentially claim missions and skills.  A player can claim a mission tile with a number lower than the number of the space their ship occupies – these earn gems and gold worth victory points (VPs).  Also, a player can claim skills based on the symbols on the cards used in their expedition – skills can do things such as permanently increasing a player’s hand size.

Players going far enough may also earn encounter cards which give players special abilities.  After playing a card, a player takes a new card either from those on display or a face-down one (a bit like Ticket To Ride).

The game ends when all the mission tiles have been taken, or when a player takes control of Madame Ching’s ship (by having one of each of the 4 different skills) which is worth  lots of VPs.  The player with the most VPs wins.

Madame Ching cover

Madame Ching sounds like a simple game of card playing but with some interesting elements and decisions, such as when to advance your expedition and when to end it on purpose in order to grab missions and skills before other players do.  Also, players could grab lower value mission tiles for VPs but probably at the expense of gaining skills (due to having played fewer cards).

The turn order sounds interesting as the player with the highest number card goes first which gives them less room for playing further cards but does mean they’re the first pick from the new cards.  The various skills and encounter cards add lots of small abilities that make each player different.

It sounds like turns will be very quick so downtime should be minimal.  I’m definitely looking forwards to playing this one as it sounds like simple, fast and fun.

Between them, the co-designers of Madame Ching have quite a heritage too.  Together, Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc designed Dice Town, all of the Mr Jack games, Cyclades and the forthcoming Desperados of Dice Town.  Individually, they have created many games – Bruno Cathala’s include Abyss, Shadows Over Camelot, Longhorn, MowPrrrt; and Ludovic Maublanc’s include Ca$h’n’Guns and Rampage (co-designer).

You can read the rules and game details on Hurrican Games website using this link: bga.me/madameching

For more Spiel 2014 previews, check out my Spiel 2014 Previews page which lists the games on my radar with links to their previews too.


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